Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Theology of Dried Up Markers

I have had to control the urge to buy Brand New Juicy Markers no less than six times this Back-to-School season.  (Having just purchase a 50-marker pack this summer, that seemed more like a Greed than a Need.  Bummer!)  What is it about those perfect tips?  Those strong and flowing colors?  That packaged promise of new and artistic creations?

We love markers at our house.  But we also have a thing for dying and dried out markers.  It’s this kind of thing:

Retired marker cup

It's become our Enviro-Friendly, Upcycled, Repurposed Gift Giving craft of choice.


You need:

  • About 12 to 20 dried markers
  • One clean and tin can, stripped of its label
  • A piece of ribbon, about 10” long
  • A hot glue gun. 
1.   Glue each marker around the base.   Start by laying down a one- to two-inch horizontal bead of glue and putting two or three markers in place at a time.  It helps to keep the can on the table and make sure the marker bottom is flush with the bottom of the can.  

Note: If you are a perfectionist, God help you, and get a rubber band so you can do a dress rehearsal of how the markers will fit around the can.  That way if you have a gap at the end you can play with using markers of various sizes to fit the circumference better. 

Another Note:  If you are a math major, you could probably figure out an equation for x pens =  pi * can’s radius to determine the quantity and diameter of the pens that you will need.  But you should really put your problem solving skills to slowing the world’s climate change problem instead of extrapolating a mathematical formula for crafting… 
2.   Anyway, once you get your markers glued on, find a colorful ribbon, tie it in place over a glue got or two, and voila!  You have the perfect teacher appreciation gift. 
3.   If you want to earn bonus points or redeem yourself after forgetting homework and Media Center books all year, throw in a batch of pencils and a cute tag.  A+++!

All this thinking about markers and assessing our dwindling stash of dried out relics got me reflecting on the Theology of Dried Up Markers.

In baptism, God makes us—his markers in the world—fresh and juicy receptacles of his flowing Holy Spirit.  And that is very, very good.  But if we don’t keep our caps on tight by staying connected to God and his Living Word, our ink—our ability to color our world with God’s vibrant love—will dry up.

And we do dry up.  We are human.  Flawed.  Imperfect.

But that is not the end of the story.  (Amen to THAT!)  God doesn’t toss us out when we wander away from him, distracted by earthly things, forgetting our caps under the craft table, neglecting his word and his will.

He waits.  And he works.  And more often than we realize, he brings us back to him, taking his dried out, crusty, errant children and rejuvenating us.  We might not be revived with a miraculously never-ending ink supply.  But we might be gathered in fellowship with a bunch of other flawed Christians, set into a new place with a new purpose, and lovingly shared with the world.  With a bow around us, to boot!  Talk about being born again as something better!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I fear that being made anew in Christ means changing who I am.  That’s hard.  I like who I am.  If I change in Christ how does that change my relationships with loved ones, the joy I get from favorite pastimes, the comfort of my current life?  When I’m stuck in this thinking it helps to remember that God doesn’t replace me or completely remake me.  He takes what I am and makes it better.  He connects me to others in a new way, in a new purpose.  He works beyond my original size and shape and dreams up something far more colorful than I could ever imagine.

It’s like Ann Voskamp said in a recent webcast (I paraphrase…): As Christians we say “Yes” to who God is.  We also say “Yes” to who God says we are.  He says we are forgiven.  Renewed.  Made clean.  Made whole.  Loved unconditionally and eternally.  God says our crusty emptiness counts no more.  He says we are each a lovingly chosen receptacle for his grace.  A clay jar.  A dried up marker.  And he uses us and only he can.

This is what I take away from learning God’s lesson about the Dried Up Markers: I’ve let go of stressing over the ruts and dry spots in my faith journey.  I’ve let go of my imperfections.  I turn my eyes back to Jesus.  I revive my habits.  And I wait for God to work me into his latest and greatest craft project. 

Thanks, God, for being our Divine Creator, for making me new in you.

P.S.  If you have any dried up markers lying around your house that you don’t plan on using, send them our way.  The glue gun and tin cans are waiting!


  1. Love this blog...can't help but think the math note was directed at me (I love a good crafty project involving pi). Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Great blog Liz. That was a good webcast wasn't it? Do you read Ann or lisa on a regular basis?

  3. @LCL... I love Ann's blog. A cup of coffee, a few quiet moments with her poetic postings, and I'm rejuvenated and ready for anything!

    @SAZ... How did you know? But if you do figure out a formula, send it my way...


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